…By for TDPel Media.
On Friday morning, Mr. Justice Swift rejected a bid from five Tory councils to have the proposed expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) ruled illegal.
The expansion, planned for August 29, had been challenged on the grounds that Mr. Khan, the mayor, had exceeded his powers in proposing to extend the clean air zone across all 33 boroughs from the inner boundary of the North and South Circular roads.
The councils argued that the Ulez expansion disproportionately affected residents in outer London who heavily relied on cars due to limited public transport options.
Councils’ Opposition to Ulez Expansion:
The five Tory councils, including Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon, and Surrey County Council, expressed opposition to the Ulez expansion, branding it a “tax on living in outer London.”
They raised concerns about the substantial number of vehicles failing to meet the Ulez emission rules, making them liable for the £12.50-a-day levy.
The councils sought to challenge the mayor’s decision in court, citing three grounds of claim, all of which were ultimately rejected by Mr. Justice Swift.
Court’s Ruling and Mr. Khan’s Victory:
Mr. Justice Swift delivered an 18-page ruling, dismissing all the claims against the Mayor’s Ulez expansion.
The court found that Mr. Khan acted within his powers when proposing the expansion through amendments to the existing road charging scheme.
The provided information for the consultation was deemed sufficient to enable informed responses, even though some critics argued it lacked depth.
The mayor’s decision on the grant for the vehicle scrappage scheme was also deemed lawful by the court.
Potential Implications and Next Steps:
With the landmark ruling in favor of the mayor, the five councils must now decide whether to appeal the judgement.
This decision depends on the existence of an issue of law at stake and their willingness to incur further legal costs.
In the lead-up to the ruling, it was speculated that taxpayers’ money amounting to over £500,000 had already been spent on the judicial review case.
Had the mayor lost, the Ulez expansion’s implementation date might have been delayed, potentially turning next May’s mayoral elections into a referendum on the Ulez.
Opposition’s Perspective and Future Plans:
Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall, present in court during the ruling, has vowed to eliminate the Ulez expansion “on day one” if she defeats Mr. Khan in the elections.
However, she intends to retain the existing Ulez in its current format.
During the court hearing, the councils argued that Mr. Khan had acted beyond his powers by amending an existing legal order rather than drafting a new one.
They also claimed that Transport for London’s consultation documents had a “gaping hole,” which undermined the claim that the majority of car drivers would be unaffected by the expansion.
Transport for London’s Defense:
Transport for London (TfL), represented by their legal team, defended the mayor’s decisions.
They argued that excluding drivers living just outside the Greater London boundary from the scrappage scheme was a considered decision, aiming to target low-income Londoners and small businesses in the capital effectively.
TfL also addressed claims that they relied on insufficient data from CCTV cameras in outer London to calculate the number of vehicles affected by the Ulez expansion.
The court’s ruling represents a significant victory for Mr. Khan and his Ulez expansion plans.
It clears the way for the expansion to proceed as scheduled.
The opposition may consider appealing the judgement, but for now, the mayor’s initiative to reduce emissions and improve air quality in London appears to have overcome its legal challenges.